Monday, July 3, 2017

Hipster Farmers' Almanac

A few weeks ago, Mr. W and I spent two days laying down our "big" summer garden in the lower, wild part of our backyard. Creating a functioning garden in the middle of a weed field requires just a smidge of elbow grease. So, naturally, we started with a call to our neighbor asking if he could roll his tractor over to plow our plot for us.

I assumed that our neighbor's tractor pass would to make our jobs exponentially easier, but that was before I knew all the details of Mr. W's very intricate garden construction plan. Dig-and-plant is for amateurs. Instead, we dug three 6-inch-deep, 25-foot-long trenches into which we placed chicken wire as protection against gophers. (The one thing we planted outside of the "grid" recently disappeared into a tunnel in the ground. Thank goodness Mr. W knew we needed to lay down the wire...)

Now, I'm pretty sure that I've told Mr. W about twelve times that I will no longer dig ditches for him. I'm happy to help with other chores, but I when it comes to digging—the ultimate grunt work—I'm out. Yet, somehow, there I was with my shovel, breaking my back alongside him for hours.

Thankfully, Mr. W had a blue tooth speaker pumping out 80s music from Spotify. So as we covered our gopher barrier with a mix of compost and regular dirt, Adam Ant and Robert Smith serenaded us.

"How many farmers do you think listen to the Cure while they work?" I asked Mr. W.

"Only the hipster ones," he answered.

Were we hipster farmers?! 

I felt like I needed to run out and buy some high-waisted pants and vegan sandals. But when I told my 22-year-old niece the story, she quickly informed me that we were NOWHERE NEAR hipsterhood.

So, I guess we're just farmers who listen to 80s music.

In spite of all the sweat and dirt and body aches our project entailed, we're pretty psyched about the new garden. Hopefully sooner than later, our kitchen will be overflowing with tomatoes, tomatillos, bell peppers, jalapeños, zucchini, pumpkins, cantaloupe, corn, and some edible flowers.

A wee baby pumpkin

Until then, we'll distract ourselves with the other latest addition to our farm: Santa Barbara (Barb) and Santa Ynez (Agnes) the pullets. We picked them up last weekend and we're in love.


If having really cute chickens doesn't add to our hip-ness, we're hoping our other latest project will help: cafe lights on the pergola. Summer al fresco dining, here we come.

Hip that.

Monday, April 24, 2017

More Usable Space and a Whole Lotta Redwood

When I first moved in with Mr. W 6 1/2 years ago, I remember being mildly horrified by the lack of storage space in his house. Where would I put my wrapping paper supplies and Rubbermaid tubs filled with old photo albums and collection of board games? Of course, I made everything fit by forcing Mr. W to rearrange and purge his belongings. {Sneaky brilliance}

In 2013 when we moved into our Santa Ynez house, we were both delighted by how much space we were gaining. We'd be able to fit every last Halloween costume, piece of scrap wood, and superfluous blanket and bedpillow. We never dreamed we'd fill it all, but fast forward 3 years and we were starting to burst at the seams. Between Mr. W's supply of RC helicopters, my mass of hoarded wine bottles for Etsy projects, every power tool known to man, and the real elephant in the room—an airplane Mr. W is building from scratch—we needed more room.

The most logical place to expand was to make over the one part of the house we pretty much never used: the breezeway.

Though it had a cute set of furniture on it like a little kitchen-adjacent lounge in which to drink martinis and read the evening post, we never, ever spent time out there. It was really just a dumping ground for garden tools, chicken feed bags, paint cans, or whatever else we didn't feel like putting away in its proper spot.

So up went a removable wall, and in went Mr. W's makeshift workshop space (allowing me to finally start parking in the garage again...) We're still working on the curb appeal here—we're midway through stripping and staining the beams by the front door so they tie into the new more modern panelling. And I'm sure there will be some further tweaking after that.

We bought a new garage door, too, which we both really dig.

I think once we get the kinks figured out, it'll all look really nice (except the hideous driveway...). And it's great that Mr. W has spillover space for his aeronautics endeavors now.

RIP Carrie Birdshaw :( :(

So now you may be wondering where the cute set of patio furniture went. Behold my friends, the recently added crown jewel of our backyard: Prince Pergola.

We knew we wanted to erect some sort of sun shade feature in the backyard and after seeing this beauty on Fixer Upper one night, Mr. W concocted a perfect design for it. We brought in some pros and it was up and casting shadows in about a week.

Fixer Upper inspiration pulled from Instagram

I swear it has changed the entire house. It feels like an extension of the living and dining room, which is exactly what we wanted. At least 3 times a week, I'm outside on my laptop working from the "outdoor office" soaking up some vitamin D. It's truly fantastic.

These guys like it too. But only from afar.

Looking forward to having some nice red Sangria under those gorgeous red beams this summer. Cheers!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

It's All Just Happening Too Fast

In less than two weeks, I'll be turning 41. It's been a whirlwind of a first year in this new decade, and I find myself wondering lately if anyone else gets the sense that the world is spinning faster than it used to. As we get older, does everything start to come flying at you at more and more of a breakneck pace? Like a hailstorm in a tilt-o-whirl? Or the scene from I Love Lucy where she's working in the candy factory, trying so desperately to "process" all the chocolate until she finally just has to start stuffing it all in her mouth to keep up?

I knew this past week was going to be busy because my boss was on vacation. And I was having oral/sinus surgery. I didn't know I was also going to have unexpected houseguests for a night, witness the highs (and some drama) of watching an important project launch after months of hard work, plus spend several days caring for a sick, beloved pet chicken who ended up dying. 

Tilt-o-whirl hailstorm.

I think sometimes I forget that life is always a rollercoaster. It's like two weeks of calm give me amnesia and I suddenly don't remember that I've had two cats die and two new cats arrive in the span of 8 months. Or that I got a new car but also may have to get new foundation supports because part of our house might be sinking into our hillside. I keep going blind to the fact that the crazy candy conveyor belt is the norm.

Last month, my dentist pulled a tooth that had been hanging out in my mouth for about 38 years. It was a baby tooth, and although I'm 40, it was still attached with nothing above it to take its place. Mr. W teased me after my dental extraction and asked if this meant I was finally going to become a grown-up.

I don't think I'm ready.

Because if this planet really does start to spin faster and faster the older you get, I'd rather hang on to my youth and my immaturity and all of my baby teeth.

All this new and old and birth and death and planning and unexpected. It's kind of exhausting.

I'm grateful to be alive and to be lucky enough to be experiencing the full range of human emotions— but MAN I am tired. And I've got like 50-60 more years of this.

Someone, please tell me it'll slow down a little.

In the meantime, I think I'll have to just continue to mentally medicate myself with stuff like cat pictures...

Babies Powell Guinness and Oliver Montrose

Arms out, tail out